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After smooth election, GOP leaders still seek vote restrictions

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Republicans in some states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden already are pushing for brand spanking new restrictions on absentee voting.

Adjustments to the way in which thousands and thousands of Individuals voted this yr contributed to report turnout, however that is no assure the measures making it simpler to forged ballots will stick round for future elections.

Republicans in key states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden already are pushing for brand spanking new restrictions, particularly to absentee voting. It is an possibility many states expanded amid the coronavirus outbreak that proved vastly well-liked and helped guarantee one of many smoothest election days in recent times.

President Donald Trump has been unrelenting in his assaults on mail voting as he continues to problem the legitimacy of an election he misplaced. Regardless of an absence of proof and dozens of losses within the courts, his claims of widespread voter fraud have gained traction with some Republican elected officers.

They’re vowing to crack down on mail ballots and threatening to roll again different steps which have made it simpler for individuals to vote.

“This delusion couldn’t justify throwing out the outcomes of the election, nor can it justify imposing extra burdens on voters that may disenfranchise many Individuals,” mentioned Wendy Weiser, head of the democracy program on the Brennan Heart for Justice on the NYU Faculty of Legislation.

An estimated 108 million individuals voted earlier than Election Day, both via early in-person voting or by mailing or dropping off absentee ballots. That represented almost 70% of all votes forged, after states took steps to make it simpler to keep away from crowded polling locations in the course of the pandemic.

Just a few states despatched ballots to each registered voter whereas others dropped necessities that voters wanted a selected excuse to forged an absentee poll. Many states added drop containers and expanded early voting choices.

The adjustments have been well-liked with voters and didn’t result in widespread fraud. A gaggle of election officers together with representatives of the federal cybersecurity company referred to as the 2020 presidential election the “most safe” election in U.S. historical past, and U.S. Lawyer Basic William Barr instructed The Related Press there had been no proof of fraud that might change the end result of the election.

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However, Republicans in Georgia have proposed including a photograph ID requirement when voting absentee, a ban on drop containers and presumably a return to requiring an excuse for mail voting, akin to sickness or touring for work on Election Day.

Early supporters of the ID requirement embody Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Republicans who have been criticized relentlessly by Trump for failing to again his fraud claims after shedding in Georgia. A high deputy for Raffensperger has mentioned the ID requirement would increase public confidence and refute any future claims of fraud.

The state’s two U.S. Senate runoffs subsequent month will happen beneath present legislation, which requires native election officers to confirm signatures on absentee ballots.

In Pennsylvania, Republican lawmakers have been writing laws to handle what they declare are issues with the 2020 election and mail voting particularly, although courts and elections officers have discovered no proof of widespread issues.

“We might wish to tighten it up as quickly as we will,” mentioned Pennsylvania Senate Majority Chief Kim Ward.

Republicans maintain majorities in each legislative chambers, and their help was instrumental in a year-old state legislation that expanded mail voting to all registered voters. One invoice being mentioned would go as far as to repeal that legislation and power voters to state an excuse to obtain a poll within the mail.

Earlier elections have proven that voters respect mail voting, irrespective of their celebration affiliation. Republican candidates down the poll did very effectively this yr, at the same time as a report 81.2 million voters forged their poll for the Democrat within the presidential race.

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In Michigan, Republicans held each congressional seat and stored management of the legislature regardless of Trump shedding the state. But Republicans nonetheless held a legislative listening to through which Trump’s legal professionals argued there have been widespread irregularities with out explaining how these by some means affected solely the presidential race however not different contests.

“Similar to we have now seen a whole lot of legislators making ill-advised selections to carry hearings that ended up being extra political theater than coverage debates, we will equally anticipate legislators to additional this hyper-partisan agenda to limit the vote,” mentioned Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat. 

Benson mentioned lawmakers ought to as an alternative look to the excessive turnout for the presidential election as a information to bettering what labored after which make adjustments sought by elections officers, akin to offering extra time for clerks to course of mail ballots. Michigan doesn’t permit that work to start till the day earlier than Election Day.

Lisa Schaefer, govt director of the County Commissioners Affiliation of Pennsylvania, mentioned her group additionally want to see lawmakers give attention to decreasing the pressure dealing with native election officers. 

“The extra time that we spend in debating different points, the much less time that we have now to do one thing good with adjustments to the election code,” Schaefer mentioned.

Democrats and voting rights teams have already begun pushing again, saying Republicans ought to be targeted on defending voter entry to the polls and never feeding into conspiracy theories launched by Trump and his allies to undermine the Nov. three election.

They are saying ID necessities accomplish little, however have a excessive value.

“It is a answer in quest of an issue,” mentioned California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat who was just lately tapped to fill the U.S. Senate seat of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. “It’ll undoubtedly have the online impact of disenfranchising lots of people with out essentially bettering election safety.”

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Padilla helps sending registered voters a poll within the mail.

Voter fraud does occur, however research have proven it is exceedingly uncommon. Quite a few safeguards are constructed into voting techniques to make sure that solely eligible voters forged a poll. Election officers say when fraud does occur, persons are caught and prosecuted.

Not all Republicans are searching for so as to add restrictions.

In Ohio, Secretary of State Frank LaRose mentioned his legislative priorities are to broaden early voting places, enhance oversight of election distributors, add an internet possibility for requesting absentee ballots and handle confusion over drop containers. 

“Ohio’s acquired a superb factor going, however we do not wish to relaxation on our laurels,” mentioned LaRose, who must get his adjustments via a Republican-dominated legislature.

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams mentioned the pandemic pressured the state to implement early voting, which proved well-liked amongst voters of each main events. The Republican mentioned he thinks it is seemingly state lawmakers will create an early voting coverage for subsequent elections and has heard of no opposition to that within the GOP-controlled legislature. 

“It simply makes voting simpler,” he mentioned.

Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York. Related Press writers Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Ben Nadler in Atlanta; and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.

Related Press protection of voting rights receives help partially from Carnegie Company of New York. The AP is solely liable for this content material.

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